On this blog, and on many others around the web you see many references to building an online presence and developing your brand identity. We often punctuate those posts with references to big brands, and notes on how great websites should look. But we rarely illustrate them with actual images of great online presences. Until today.
Instead of explaining what it takes to build a great online presence, we’re going to chart the development of one of the world’s most valuable companies and the worlds most successful web presences.
This was Apple.com in July 1997, the month Steve Jobs returned to the top job. It may have been a good presence at the time, looking back it’s uninspiring. The page runs on and on, it’s cluttered and feels very much like a bad B2B site. This may be a sign of how far Apple had fallen at this point in their history. But things were about to change.
Just one year later, things were looking a lot better. Gone was the long scrawl and the clutter. Just as the new Apple was starting to build clean, well-designed products like the new iMac, their web presence began to reflect that identity.
The next step forward for Apple’s products came in 2001 with the release of the revolutionary iPod in October 2001. By this time the web prescence had really taked shape. Tabs had appeared at the top of the page to clear some of the clutter. A big bold imge had taken over the page and each of the other links became proper images rather than blocky buttons. Clean, white and pretty, the website was becoming Apple products in a nutshell.
In 2007, Apple broke the mold again with the release of the iPhone. By this point, the brand’s web presence had taken on the form we’re most familiar with today. Typically for Apple, the image had totally taken over. The links are pushed out in favour of a big, bold showcase for their headline act. If you ever want a lesson on impactful online product promotion, just come back to this page.
Apple’s last true innovation came in 2010 with the release of the iPad. The paradigm for new products bossing the homepage had been set and everything except the promotional video was pushed behid the tabs at the top. It’s clean, simple and intuitive; it’s practivally Apple’s mission statement.
Over a 15 year period, Apple grew from a struggling, run of the mill tech company producing ho-hum products to the largest tech company in the world, producing exciting, innovative and beautiful products. In the same period their site went from dull and cluttered to clean, slick and beautiful. That’s no coincidence.